October 5, 2010 / 4:15 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. LNG imports hit 2-1/2 year low in August- DOE

* August LNG imports lowest since December 2007

* Ample domestic supply dampens import needs

NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - U.S imports of liquefied natural gas in August fell to their lowest monthly level in more than 2-1/2 years as ample domestic supply continued to dampen import needs, according to data from the Department of Energy on Tuesday.

August imports tumbled 38 percent year-on-year to 21.6 billion cubic feet, the slowest month since December 2007, the data showed.

The volumes fell from 34.6 bcf in August 2009 and from 36.3 bcf in July.

Imports have slowed to minimal contracted volumes in recent months as gas prices continue to sink under the weight of increased gas production and weak demand, deterring shippers from sending any spot volumes to U.S. terminals.

Imports hit highs for the year in January near 57 bcf as U.S. gas futures reached $6 per million British thermal units due to cold weather, but a persistent slide in prices to below $4 has traders looking elsewhere to offload cargoes.

European gas prices are currently near $8 per mmBtu, with spot LNG prices in Asia above $9.

The lion’s share of U.S. August imports — 16.5 bcf — came from Trinidad, with 5.1 bcf arriving from Yemen. Most of the volumes were delivered to Distrigas’s Everett terminal in Boston which took 13.3 bcf, and the Elba Island terminal in Georgia which took 8 bcf.

The Neptune port offshore Massachusetts took a partial cargo.

The other seven U.S. import terminals sat idle in August as spot deliveries failed to show up.

The landed price of the cargoes in August was mostly in the $4.50-$5 per million British thermal unit range, the data showed. (Reporting by Edward McAllister; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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